From sparkling to Merlot, these wines from the North Fork and Hamptons AVAs are worth seeking out.
Visiting Eastern Long Island, the first thing you notice is the quality of the light. The region is surrounded by the sea and light bounces from the bluffs hovering above the Long Island Sound, to the sugar sand beaches of the Peconic Bay, to the crashing waves of the Atlantic Coast. This constant refraction imbues the vineyards, grasses, flowers, and birds with saturated hues that are at once intense and pure. It also permits a long growing season that lasts 210 days most years.
Despite the abundant sunshine, the cool maritime climate and four distinct seasons dictates local weather that has more in common with vagaries of Northern Europe than the endless warmth of California. So even though the first grapes on the North Fork and in the Hamptons were planted in 1973, a blip in wine years, the region continues to refine its identity, as its winemakers take aesthetic cues from Bordeaux, Austria, and Northeastern Italy, pursuing wines with natural acidity and low alcohol.
These wines showcase the accomplishments and potential of the North Fork and Hamptons AVAs. Styles range from a traditional méthode-champenoise sparkler to a single-vineyard Merlot. Still, the list reveals patterns. Early-ripening Bordeaux varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc thrive in Long Island’s glacial soils and sandy loam, as do Sauvignon Blanc and other cool-climate whites. Old vines from historic estates like Mudd Vineyards give a glimpse of the region’s capacity for elegance. Blending is helpful for consistency across vintages. After four decades of experimentation, a sense of place is beginning to take hold.
Sparkling Pointe Brut Seduction 2010
Sparkling wine with a base of estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made using the méthode-champenoise and aged on lees for eight years.
Wölffer Estate Rosé 2018
Fresh, clean, blend of seven grape varieties that see extended lees contact, yielding a delicately aromatic rosé with a saline finish.
Channing Daughters Mudd Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2017
The vines for this Sauvignon Blanc were planted on their own roots in 1975, making them some of the oldest on Long Island. The fruit was hand-picked, whole-cluster-pressed, and handled minimally.
Paumanok Minimalis Chenin Blanc 2018
Honeyed, vibrant, Chenin Blanc from vines planted in 1982, whole-cluster-pressed and aged for seven months before bottling.
One Woman Wines and Vineyards Gruner Veltliner 2016
An aromatic wine with bright acidity, inner complexity, peppery aromas, and a long dry finish.
Lieb Reserve Pinot Blanc 2018
Rich, mouth-filling, old-vine Pinot Blanc.
Shinn Estates Wild Boar Doe 2016
A crowd-pleasing, full-bodied blend of the Bordeaux varieties Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
McCall Merlot Reserve Corchaug Vineyard 2012
The clay soils of the Corchaug estate yield an opulent and expressive ruby-colored Merlot.
Bedell – Taste Red 2014
A luscious blend of Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc with notes of ripe dark fruit, cocoa, and wild herbs. Wild fermentation, low alcohol, and high acidity impart a lifted expression to this full-bodied wine.
Raphael Cabernet Franc 2017
Ripe red fruit mingles with savory olive notes in this vibrant red wine with pleasing and persistent endnotes.